February 25, 2008

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia, Public Information, (908) 527-4419
Tom Plante, Public Information, (908) 527-4746


Watchung Reservation Deer Management Program to Begin March 3

The Union County Department of Parks & Community Renewal has released details of its annual Watchung Reservation Deer Management Program, which will begin on Monday, March 3.

From 1996-1999, the County of Union’s state-approved deer management program worked to reduce the number of deer in the Watchung Reservation from an estimated 180 deer per square mile to the goal density of 20 deer per square mile. This goal was achieved one year earlier than anticipated. The program currently underway, begun in 2000, changed the emphasis from reduction to maintenance of that density level.

This year’s Watchung Reservation Deer Management Program will operate from approximately 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 3; Wednesday, March 5; and Thursday, March 6. In the event of inclement weather on any of those dates, the program will occur on Friday, March 7, but under no circumstances will the program extend past Friday.

Twelve marksmen, chosen by the County from among experienced, licensed hunters, most of whom have previously participated in Union County’s program, have been selected to serve on a voluntary basis. The deer that are killed will be processed at a USDA-approved butcher. Venison will be distributed to the needy and homeless through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Teams of agents will be supervised by the Union County Police and representatives from the
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Anyone found hunting on any County park property outside the terms of this program will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Citizens observing any such illegal activity are urged to immediately contact the Union County Police
at 908-654-9800.

The public should note that the Watchung Reservation will not be closed during the deer management program; however, portions of some roadways in the park may be closed for short periods if necessary. Park patrons are urged to stay on marked hiking, walking and bridle trails.

The Union County Department of Parks & Community Renewal has mailed information about its annual deer-management program to households surrounding the park. Copies also will be available at Trailside Nature & Science Center, 452 New Providence Road, and at Watchung Stable, 1160 Summit Lane, both in Mountainside.

For further information, contact the Union County Department of Parks & Community Renewal
at (908) 527-4900.